Up a very steep hill from Union Square (just a few blocks but worlds away) is San Francisco's prestigious Nob Hill neighborhood, beset with mansions and elegant hotels overlooking San Francisco from their privileged perch. The neighborhood lives on a grand scale and so do Nob Hill restaurants, many of which have a cultured, Old World aura. The Dining Room, an understated name for one of the top fifty restaurants in the country, at the Ritz Carlton is an ode to sophistication. The Top of the Mark at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel has over 100 martinis on its list and unrivaled bird's-eye views of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Recently, intimate newcomers like Sparrow and Bar Crudo have given the Nob Hill dining scene a more neighborly feel without forgoing the requisite class.
Big 4 Restaurant - The Huntington Hotel
1075 California St., San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.771.1140
Contemporary American. Warm and nostalgic with early California décor, the Big 4 Restaurant at the Huntington Hotel provides a uniquely American fine dining experience that has earned it fistfuls of critical acclaim. Award-winning Executive Chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls personally scripts the menus, bringing a wealth of creativity to an eclectic mix of appetizers, pastas and house specialties like Scottish smoked salmon, French butter pears salad with Prosciutto, and pan-seared whiskey-marinated buffalo rib eye.
The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton
600 Stockton St., San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.773.6168
French. Just walking into the colossal 1909 Nob Hill landmark building that the Ritz Carlton hotel calls home is an experience in Nob Hill capital accumulation. The hotel's Dining Room is no less sophisticated. In a sumptuous candlelit atmosphere, Chef Sylvian Portay's fine French dining is designed to "enliven the senses—sight, touch, taste, scent and sound," or at least impress a dinner date. Add regal service, and it's no wonder Food & Wine Magazine just dubbed San Francisco's Dining Room on the top fifty restaurants in the country.
Fleur de Lys
777 Sutter St., San Francisco CA 94109; Tel. 415.673.7779
French. After a destructive fire in 2000 that left the Fleur de Lys a charred shell, this downtown San Francisco restaurant went back to the drawing board and fully renovated their downtown San Francisco location. The new dining room (more beautiful than ever) is a red, rich and chandeliered space, a luxe setting for caviar, French cheeses and four course gourmet dinners including meat, game, seafood and a new emphasis on vegetarian options.
Jeanne D'Arc - Cornell Hotel De France
715 Bush St., San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.421.3154
French. A decidedly elegant San Francisco French restaurant, Jeanne D’Arc at the Cornell Hotel De France offers approachably priced French cuisine in a beautiful setting. Tapestries, stained glass and artifacts celebrate the life and deeds of Joan of Arc and create a lovely stage for enjoying the prix fixe menu and bottles from the cellar of Californian and French wines.
Laurel Court Restaurant & Lounge - The Fairmont San Francisco
950 Mason St., San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.772.5260
Californian. An elegant choice for San Francisco dining, the Laurel Court Restaurant & Lounge in the Fairmont San Francisco is hailed as one of the best power lunch destinations around. Crowned by three bedecked domes, this restaurant pampers guests from midday through evening with a stop for sophisticated afternoon tea along the way. Even if foregoing the fine preparations of Californian cuisine, visiting Laurel Court is worth it for sipping signature cocktails, sampling wines from the award-winning list or relaxing with Saturday evening live jazz.
The Lobby Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton
600 Stockton St., San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.773.6198
Mediterranean. A stylish choice for breakfast, brunch, lunch and cocktails in San Francisco, the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton provides a refined atmosphere commonly populated with well-heeled crowds. Afternoon tea is a sophisticated tradition maintained on Saturdays and Sundays.
Nob Hill Grille
969 Hyde St., San Francisco CA 94109; Tel. 415.474.5985
Comfort Food. Comfort food gets a makeover at the Nob Hill Grille. This warm neighborhood restaurant treats customers with a sense of familiarity and provides a setting for relaxing with large, elegantly plated dishes of critically acclaimed fare. The menu boasts creative dishes like chicken pot pie with pancetta, grilled pork chops with sweet potato pancakes, seared duck breast sliders, spinach & artichoke dip, and mac & cheese.
Rue Saint Jacques
1098 Jackson, San Francisco CA 94133; Tel. 415.776.2002
French. A casually elegant neighborhood dining spot, Rue Saint Jacques flaunts a warm, welcoming atmosphere and a menu of French cuisine with Californian twists. Complementing the artistically plated fare, the excellent wine list favors hard-to-find French and Californian wines while also incorporating unique selections from Spain, Germany and Argentina.
603 Bush St., San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.956.0396
Seafood. Located in Nob Hill, Swell is intimate and modern while still retaining the breezy charm of a casual San Francisco dining experience. The menu boasts eclectic and creative seafood dishes like ceviche of snapper, salmon carpaccio, spicy tuna tartare, lobster bisque and irresistible crab cakes. The extensive wine list compliments the menu with over 30 wines available by the glass.
1730 Polk St., San Francisco CA 94109; Tel. 415.775.4777
Thai. Named among the top Thai restaurants in San Francisco by the San Francisco Chronicle, Thai Spice impresses with a colorful atmosphere and an array of fragrant, flavorful cuisine. Both traditional Thai dishes and unique specialty selections populate the menu, and the approachable prices make indulging in the exotic flavors an affordable option for most occasions.
1507 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109; Tel. 415.771.9946
Italian. Northern Italian cuisine meets a savvy wine list at Ti Piacera, a favorite among San Francisco Italian restaurants. This Nob Hill fine dining destination features elegant lighting schemes, vaulted ceilings and an air of European sophistication tempered by the warmth of a neighborhood restaurant. For everything from romantic dates to business lunches to Sunday brunch, Ti Piacera delivers.
The Tonga Room
950 Mason St., San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.772.5278
Asian. For Tiki madness, a visit to San Francisco is not as experiential without a cocktail and appetizers at The Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar. Consistently awarded for serving 'San Francisco's Best Happy Hour' by San Francisco Magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian and most recently, Where Magazine, The Tonga Room offers exceptional Pacific Rim Asian Cuisine in a truly tropical setting that includes thunder, rainstorms and a floating band. This San Francisco restaurant, located in the Fairmont Hotel, is a Polynesian escape after a busy day of meetings or shopping along Union Square. Be sure to try the Mai Tai.
Top of the Mark
1 Nob Hill, San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.616.6916
Californian. The Top of the Mark, a mahogany sky bar and lounge literally on top of the Mark Hopkins hotel, has one of San Francisco's most signature views: a staggering 360 degree bird's eye view of San Francisco and the Bay. Dip into a cocktail and light fine dining and then take a spin in the clouds on the Top's elevated dance floor.
1257 Taylor St., San Francisco CA 94108; Tel. 415.922.2545
Italian. A romantic, neighborhood restaurant hidden on a quiet street atop Nob Hill, Venticello serves classic and comforting Italian cuisine supported by a fantastic list of Italian and Californian wines. A warm, quaint Tuscan-farmhouse style is cultivated with white linen-topped tables, rustic chairs, amber-hued walls, a wood burning oven and views of the bay. Venticello is consistently rated among the most romantic restaurants in San Francisco.